Dogs and Their Language

To make coexistence between humans and animals as uncomplicated as possible, it is important to understand the language of the other. If you want to learn to understand the dog and its body language, it is necessary to observe the animal. The experts from the association Pfotenhilfe provide information about the most important behavior in the communication of and with dogs.

What the posture reveals

Dogs communicate primarily through their body language. Precisely because they register and classify even our smallest movement, dogs can understand us humans so well. Although sounds are also part of the communication of dogs, they play a subordinate role in body language. This is also the reason why many dogs learn the visual signal first and do not even associate the word with the signal.

The posture of a dog gives information about how he feels. If the dog tries to make himself small, lays his ears back and the tail is pulled up slightly or even tucked under the stomach, then one can assume that the dog is unsure or is afraid.

If only the front body is set low and the dog moves back and forth with stretched front legs, the dog wants to invite the other person to play.

A threatening dog makes itself big. He straightens his legs and his ears are forward. Body weight is shifted forward to allow for an attack. The muscles are tense, the gaze fixates on the object. The tail is also erect and points steeply upwards or towards the head. The mouth is forward and closed. The threat can also be accompanied by the growling and baring of teeth.

Appeasement signals

Since dogs normally try to avoid arguments, there are several calming signals. These are intended to calm the other person down and to signal that you don’t mean any harm. These signals show relaxed dogs out of politeness when meeting a strange dog, as well as to relax anxious dogs. However, dogs also show these signals to draw the other person’s attention to the fact that they feel insecure and do not want a conflict and ask them to keep their distance. Common soothing signals are averting your gaze, taking a bow, sniffing the ground, or turning away entirely. A dog that shows these signals to humans wants to put them in a good mood.

Correctly interpret wagging

Excitement can be expressed through many signs. We humans often misunderstand wagging in particular as joy. Wagging just means the dog is excited. This can be a happy excitement because his caregiver is coming home, but it can also be an unpleasant excitement because, for example, an aggressive dog is approaching. It is not uncommon for people to be surprised when the previously wagging dog suddenly reacts in an unfriendly manner.

A high tail wag usually indicates that the dog is very agitated and unsure of how to act. The choices are Play, Freeze, Escape, or Attack. Deep wagging, on the other hand, serves as a calming signal. In any case, the entire posture must always be considered with a wagging dog. Other signs of excitement or nervousness may include barking, whining, or yelping, and increased panting.

Relaxed attitude – relaxed dog

A relaxed dog relaxes its muscles and stands up straight, ears either pricked up alert or hanging straight down. The tail hangs loose. If the dog is leading a relaxed life, it will usually exhibit a relaxed, neutral posture, showing frequent excitement or invitations to play, and polite signals of reassurance. If you pay attention to your four-legged friend’s posture, your dog will feel understood and will appear social and friendly.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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